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Arabian Nights (Sherman Cymru)

Arabian Nights is a great alternative to the panto this Christmas.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The cast of Arabian Nights
(© © Sherman Cymru)

Sherman Cymru's alternative festive treat is a reminder of just how magical simple storytelling can be.

Instead of the usual worn-out panto Dominic Cooke has adapted the Arabic classic 1001 Nights, bringing exotic tales from the East to the Cardiff stage. The result is a charming and magical romp that the whole family can enjoy.

The story begins with the bitter betrayal of the King (Ashley Alymann) by his own wife. Left unable to trust any woman he decides to marry a new bride each night, only to have them put to death when the sun rises the next day. Over many nights he has many brides, leaving his people to mourn the deaths of their daughters.

The royal Vizer (Keiron Self) has two young daughters, the elder Shahrazad (Elin Phillips)is blessed with a gift for storytelling. When she comes of age she pleads with her father to allow her to marry the king, believing she can save the lives of other young women.

On the night she marries the King, Shahrazad asks her younger sister to wake her an hour before dawn. At this time she begins to tell weird and wonderful tale, but of course she cannot complete the tale before she is due to be executed. Entranced by her story the King allows Shahrazad to live for one more night in order to complete her tale. This continues night after night as the brave young woman weaves tales telling of Ali Baba and the forty the thieves and the story of the talking bird. Eventually, after 1001 nights, Shahrazad runs out of stories to tell but to find out what happens next you'll need to watch the show.

The multitalented cast are superb, giving the performance every ounce of energy they posses. Every one of them plays multiple roles and contributes to the original score by playing various instruments live on stage.

The format quickly becomes predictable but the enthusiasm of the cast stops the pace becoming too stodgy. After the interval there is a perceivable gear change building up the spectacle and wonder until the final moments.

On a beautiful set by Hayley Grindle Arabian Nights enchants it's audience, transporting them to an exotic dreamscape where stories come to life. A great alternative for a bit of festive cheer.